It’s always difficult to quantify something as nuanced as attitude in your survey, but, to compare opinions and predict outcomes, it needs to be done. Luckily, those looking for a formal method can always turn to the tried-and-true Thurstone scale.
The Thurstone scale measures a respondent’s attitude by using a series of “agree-disagree” statements of various weights. These statements help determine not only how a respondent feels, but how strongly they feel that way. By measuring attitude with the Thurstone scale, you can gauge the sentiment or opinion of respondents with greater accuracy.
The Thurstone scale was the first formal method of measuring attitude both in psychology and sociology.
Its origins go back to the early 20th century, where psychologist Louis Leon Thurstone began measuring religious attitudes by asking respondents to agree or disagree with a series of related statements. He understood that attitude was cumulative and that he could, therefore, calculate it as the sum total of each statement the respondent agreed with.
A Thurstone scale survey is a series of related, dichotomous statements. There are many examples of dichotomous statements in the Question Bank; here’s a series of questions to help you understand the concept more concretely:
I am inspired to meet my goals at work.
I feel completely involved in my work.
I am often so involved in my work that the day goes by quickly.
Use the Thurstone scale to measure and compare your respondents’ attitudes on a particular issue. You can apply the Thurstone scale to a wide range of surveys, including:
Note: Generally, we advise against using agree/disagree questions like those used in the Thurstone scale.
Want to measure, understand, and act on data from your employees or customers? Learn how our custom-built business solutions can help.
To create a Thurstone scale, just follow these 4 simple steps:
Simply assign each “agree” answer a score of 1 to 11—depending on the score above—and each “no” or “disagree” answer a score of 0. The final score of each graded quiz represents the respondent’s strength of opinion, where a higher score indicates a more supportive opinion.
Because the Thurstone scale represents attitude with a number, you can easily evaluate and compare attitudes across individuals or groups (by their average scores) in SurveyMonkey Analyze.
There are statistical limitations to the Thurstone scale. Because the relative weight of each statement is based on the assumptions of an individual or group of individuals, the mathematical differences between statements aren’t always accurate. Nevertheless, the Thurstone scale is an excellent way to evaluate and compare attitudes with a measure of objectivity.